COMMON CRANE'S - BILL

Common crane's bill, also known as meadow crane's bill, can be found on low lying meadows, roadside verges and grassland - particularly on calcareous soils. It flowers between June and August. It is particularly attractive to buff tailed bumblebees, red tailed bumblebees and honeybees all of which seek out its pollen and nectar.
The large purple  / violet flowers turn into pointed, bill like seed pods which give the plant its common name.

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COMMON CENTAURY

Common Centaury is a pretty pink wildflower found in a wide range of habitats including chalk and limestone grassland as is the case at Elmswell. I always get a buzz when I find a new species on the farm for the first time, as was the case with this plant!
It is named after centaur Chiron, who according to legend, discovered it’s healing power and used it to cure himself from the effects of a poisoned arrow.
The plant is a natural meteorologis, as it closes with an overcast sky, or in damp weather. Another plant with this character is Scarlet Pimpenel.

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WREN CHICK

Wren’s are the most common nesting bird in Britain and are often found in gardens throughout the year. Wren breeding starts in late April when the eggs are incubated for 13 to 18 days. The chicks are supported by both parents and the diet is made up of insects and spiders. When fledging is imminent the parents are intentionally absent to encourage the chicks to leave the nest.

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KESTREL CHICK

The female lays between three and six eggs in a nest site, often and old building, hollow in a tree or in a disused nest - they do not build nests themselves! Nesting is dependent on the availability of food, which consists mainly of field mice and voles. In some years a female may not nest at all. The eggs are incubated for 27 to 29 days and for the first ten days after hatching have to be constantly covered as the chicks are not able to regulate their body temperature. During this time the female is reliant on the male providing all of the feed for the female and chicks. Gradually the female will leave the nest and hunt for food, but no great distance from the nesting site. After fledging the chicks are reliant on the parents for food for up to four weeks, in this time they will gradually move further away from the nest during the day but always return to roost at night.
Kestrels are unusual birds of prey as there is no race to become the dominant chick and they will quite happily roost together.

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WILD FLOWERS

Wild flowers seem to have done well on the farm this year, but with the recent spell of very warm weather many have now gone to seed. These are just a few species.

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LORRY TRANSFER

All of the lorries taking the peas to the factory are numbered and divided into two compartments, A and B. The weight of the peas put into each compartment depends on the freezing capacity at the factory and each tip is recorded by the tractor operator. The peas can then be tracked to the factory and the factory can tell which field and which farm the peas have been grown on. This is very important for food traceability if there is a problem with a batch during processing. The trailer used is called a scissor trailer, as that is the mechanism used to lift the trailer up so the peas can be tipped into the lorry.

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UNLOADING PEAS

When the tanks on the harvesters are full the peas have to be transferred to a tractor and trailer for loading into a lorry. The tractor and trailer pulls alongside the vinner and the peas are tipped into the trailer. 

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PEA HARVESTING

Peas sown at the end of April were ready for harvesting last week. They are harvested using a machine called a vinner. This machine is able to pick the peas off the vine and separate the peas from the pods, with the peas going into a tank on the machine and the waste material being discharged from the rear of the machine. The machines are on tracks which help to prevent compaction of the soil and stabilize the machine too. To gather the harvest in these machines work with two shifts of men 24 hours a day.

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HAY HARVESTING

With five consecutive dry days we were able to cut and bail our hay in good time this year. The grass has to be cut and then turned daily to ensure that the grass is dry before it is baled up into five foot round bales. If the hay is not sufficiently dry, it can heat up and possibly catch fire which could cause considerably damage to the building it is stored in. This grass is a mixture of rye grass and clover - the clover provides nitrogen which helps the grass to grow. After five days it is already growing quite fast.

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CORN MARIGOLD

Corn marigolds used to be a very common weed in arable fields, but are now relatively rare due to modern herbicide. This one is being visited by a hoverfly - a common pollinator, also known as a marmalade hoverfly because of its colouration. 

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